Opera North announces next Newcastle season

Published: 24 November 2018

Opera North has announced the productions which will be in its March season at Newcastle Theatre Royal. There will be two new productions—Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring—and two revivals—Janáček’s Katya Kabanova and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.

The Rite of Spring is a new departure for the company, a collaboration with another Leeds-based company, Phoenix Dance Theatre. Stravinsky’s 1913 piece, which shocked audiences when first performed, will be reimagined by Haitian choreographer Jeanguy Saintus in his UK debut. It will be accompanied by the full orchestra of Opera North, conducted by Gerry Walker.

It shares a double bill with Puccini’s comedy Gianni Schichi, based on an episode from Dante’s Inferno. Scheming relatives are gathered round the deathbed of a rich man, each laying claim to a chunk of his fortune, before they make the questionable decision to call in local conman Gianni Schicchi for help.

Richard Burkhard (Tonio, Pagliacci, 2017; Figaro, The Marriage of Figaro, 2015) returns to Opera North to sing the title role with the supporting cast including Tereza Gevorgyan as Lauretta, Diego Silva as Rinuccio and Leah-Marian Jones as Zita. Scottish conductor Garry Walker conducts both pieces.

In yet another collaboration with another Leeds-based company, James Brining, Artistic Director of the Leeds Playhouse (which changed its name from the West Yorkshire Playhouse earlier this year, reverting back to the name of the theatre it replaced when it opened in 1990), will direct The Magic Flute, his first opera. He is joined by designer Colin Richmond with whom he worked on the West Yorkshire Playhouse / Opera North co-production of Sondheim’s Into the Woods in 2016.

The international cast includes soprano Ellie Laugharne as Pamina, and, as Tamino, Chinese-Australian tenor Kang Wang, who reached last year’s finals of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. Samantha Hay takes on the role of Queen of the Night, with Gavan Ring (Figaro, The Barber of Seville, 2015) appearing as Papageno the bird-catcher. Robert Howarth conducts.

For Katya Kabanova, Sian Edwards makes her Opera North debut with a cast including, as Katya, Stephanie Corley, who last appeared as Lilli Vanessi / Katherine in Kiss Me, Kate (2018), Harold Meers as her lover Boris, Heather Shipp as the formidable mother-in-law Kabanicha and Andrew Kennedy as the spineless Tichon.

The Newcastle programme is:

  • Tuesday 12 March at 7:00 : The Magic Flute
  • Wednesday 13 March at 2:00 : The Magic Flute (schools version. Not on sale to the general public)
  • Thursday 14 March at 7:30 : Katya Kabanova
  • Friday 15 March at 7:00 : The Magic Flute
  • Saturday 16 March at 7:30 : The Rite of Spring / Gianni Schicchi

Peter Lathan